Each church and each church network is steeped in a culture. That culture includes assumptions that define acceptable and rejected behaviors, beliefs and attitudes. Some of the specifics are never spoken but they’re easily observable. A pastor friend, who didn’t fit with the culture of behaviors and attitudes of his church’s key leaders, sadly complained to me, These are the guys I hated in junior high school. That’s says it all. He didn’t fit with the culture, he failed to influence any element of the culture, and he’s out.
Before hiring a man or woman into a key leadership slot, it’s honoring to the Lord to take care in the process. Leaders are not dealing with car parts carelessly and thoughtlessly placed and then ripped out and tossed aside. The Lord expects his leaders to be strong and decisive, but leaders also must handle his people respectfully and thoughtfully; Luke 22:24-30.
That’s where process is key. An assessment grid is a useful tool in the process of staff hiring. But Hey, the guy is a gifted communicator or Wow, he’s an amazing worship leader.
Leaders anxious to fill long-empty slots in their ministry team might be seduced into thinking that a candidate’s up-front gifting proves under-the-surface development and depth. Of course, no leader wants to admit that gifting dims discernment. So, just to be sure, it’s wise to create a biblical—not psychological—assessment process to get to know a candidate. A thoughtful assessment should include many categories. A primary category: Doctrine and Ministry Compatibility with the specific church or church network.
Here are some of the 16 topics included in the Doctrine and Ministry Compatibility category of the FiveStone Churches Pastor Assessment Grid:
• Open Theism versus Omniscience
• Creation versus Theistic Evolution versus Evolution
• the Blessed Hope (Titus 2:13)
• Sovereign Election versus Human Choice in salvation
Include discussion of other arenas for anyone in a vocational, pastoral position in the local church. Example: Describe the pastor’s role and other individual roles in leading the local congregation, i.e. plurality of leaders model versus Moses model.
From these topics and others, the church’s leaders should get a good handle on how well the candidate fits the doctrine and ministry culture of the local church. An individual’s public gifting must never blind the leaders to the price that will be extracted from the church if the candidate’s doctrine and ministry commitments do not match the church’s culture.
Future articles about assessing candidates will look at topics such as emotional health, relational ability, personal integrity and vision.